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No one, apparently, has learned from the mistakes of Arizona and Cyber Ninjas. Particularly not Wisconsin Republicans.
Instead, Wisconsin is pushing forward with its attempt to investigate the 2020 election, after President Joe Biden flipped the state with a margin of more than 20,000 votes. But the conservative former state Supreme Court Justice who’s heading up the investigation appears to be having a remarkably difficult time even requesting documents, just days after he admitted he doesn’t really know anything about elections.
Michael Gableman, who spent 10 years on the state’s highest court before retiring in 2018, was hired in June to oversee the Republican-led Wisconsin State Assembly’s election probe. Though Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has said the purpose of the audit is not to overturn the results of the 2020 election, both Gableman and a former Trump administration lawyer working on the $670,000-plus probe have previously said they believe the election was stolen.
There is no evidence that the 2020 election was stolen or fraudulent in any way.
But like Arizona’s before it, Gableman’s probe has not gotten off to a strong start. On Thursday, after requesting election records from city clerks totaling hundreds of thousands of pages and demanding mayors come in for interviews, Gableman abruptly reversed that decision and is now saying mayors don’t need to be interviewed and that clerks only have to provide documents that are already a matter of public record, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.
Gableman’s aide told the Journal-Sentinel that he may ask for additional records.
Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway told the Journal-Sentinel she wants the requests rescinded in writing. “They could have just called us up and asked for the information, which they didn't and as far as I have known never have done,” she said.
“And so if they need any additional information that we haven't already produced, they really can just call us and ask, or they can make an open records request.”
“It's not complicated,” she added.
Gableman has had a pretty rough go of it. He said in an interview Tuesday, for example, that he’s fundamentally confused about how elections work. “Most people, myself included, do not have a comprehensive understanding or even any understanding of how elections work," Gableman told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Then, during a Green Bay City Council meeting Tuesday night, Gableman said that the city’s mayor had been subpoenaed for an interview, only to find out the subpoena hadn’t been delivered yet. Now, it appears, the interviews aren’t happening at all.
And last month, Gableman’s investigators blasted out requests for counties to preserve records to clerks all over the state using a Gmail address attributed to someone named “John Delta.” The sketchiness of the email concerned elections officials, and the Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson told the AP it initially landed in his spam folder.
“I just think it’s strange,” Christenson told the AP. “It doesn’t seem very professional to me… everything about this has been done unprofessionally and haphazardly.”